Thursday, 14 December 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... Condemnation from Cilicia on Trump's statement

ARMINFO News Agency, Armenia
December 7, 2017 Thursday
Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram the I condemned Trump`s
statement on the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
Tatevik Shagunyan. 

The Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I opposes the 
statement of the American President Donald Trump about the
recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

During the meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Aram I, in
particular, said that this decision of Trump does not comply with
international norms and historical reality. He also stressed that
Jerusalem should remain an "open city" for the three religions -
Christian, Muslim and Jewish.

Michel Aoun stressed that he also opposes this decision of Washington.
During the meeting, issues of Armenian-Lebanese cooperation and
regional issues were discussed.

The day before, US President Donald Trump declared the recognition of
Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This decision caused a negative
response throughout the Arab world and beyond. The decision was
condemned by representatives of the Christian churches of Jerusalem,
including the Armenian Church.

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian stated that the issue of
the status of Jerusalem is one of the most important issues on the
international agenda, and it can be resolved through negotiations in a
context acceptable to the parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"This can pave the way to the establishment of lasting peace and
security. There is a centuries-old Armenian presence in Jerusalem, a
rich Armenian historical and cultural heritage. The Armenian Apostolic
Church is one of the main keepers of Christian holy places. Naturally,
we closely follow all developments around Jerusalem," said Nalbandian.

Armenpress News Agency , Armenia
December 7, 2017 Thursday
Azerbaijan's increasing military spending gives away intentions 
– Armenian FM
Azerbaijan is rejecting the proposals of the co-chairs for the NK conflict 
settlement, doing everything to keep the status-quo intact at the same 
time claiming that allegedly it is advocating for the change of status-quo, 
Armenian FM Edward Nalbandian said at the 24thmeeting of the OSCE 
Ministerial Council in Vienna on December 7.

“Azerbaijan’s intentions can be easily tracked by its expenditures:
Baku spends billions to buy influence in the world capitals, as once
again became obvious through notorious “Laundromat” affair, it spends
much more for purchases of advanced weaponry, but it has not invested
anything so far to prepare its population for peace, as the Co-Chairs
have been continuously urging”, Nalbandian said.

Nalbandian reaffirmed Armenia’s stance that the peaceful talks don’t
have an alternative, and intensive negotiations are required based on
the proposals of the co-chairs. Nalbandian mentioned the steps which
Azerbaijan must take for advancing the peace process.

“If Baku abides to the calls of the Co-Chairs to strictly respect the
ceasefire, implements previously reached agreements, reiterates its
adherence to the principles of the conflict resolution proposed by the
Co-Chairs and constructively engages in the negotiations that will
pave the way to move the peace process forward and change the
status-quo”, he said.

Speaking on his meeting with Azerbaijani FM Elmar Mammadyarov,
Nalbandian said it generally proceeded in a positive atmosphere.

“Let’s see what developments will happen after it”, he said.
Dec 8 2017
With Opening of Turkish Border, Georgia's Armenians Grow Uneasy
by Bradley Jardine 

An old Ottoman fortress watches silently over Akhalkalaki. In 2015, red graffiti appeared in Turkish, warning local Armenians "We Will Return!"

(Photo by Bradley Jardine/Eurasianet)

A few weeks ago, residents of the village of Dadash, on Georgia's border with Turkey, blocked the main highway connecting the two countries. Their aim, they said, was to call attention to rampant lawlessness in the area since the opening of the border post with Turkey in 2015.

In particular, they assert that their livestock is being stolen, blaming Turks in neighboring towns.

A member of Georgia's parliament, Enzel Mkoyan, visited the village the day after the protest to hear out their grievances. A large majority of area residents is ethnic Armenian.

Residents told him that cameras on the Turkish side showed that the stolen animals had indeed been taken over the border. They also maintained that local authorities have been of little help.

“We live on the border and are very worried,” one of the villagers, Tsolak Martirosyan said at the meeting , according to an account by local news website “Why is the Turkish side equipped with video cameras, and our side isn’t? What century do we live in?”

The problem is not new, residents complained. A village nearby, Kartsakhi, staged a similar protest in 2015, threatening to obstruct the construction of a new international railway through the area unless the authorities took action to find stolen property.

Mkoyan promised help. “I called all ministries – the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Foreign Ministry, and also the border police,” he told the crowd . “They are all worried about what happened and they promised to help. The state is behind you.”

But residents across the area say they want more than government assurances. “It used to be much safer here, but now the police are doing very little,” said Rima Gharibyan, the director of JNews. “Robberies have increased dramatically in recent years but no one will help us.”

The municipality of Akhalkalaki, which contains Dadash and Kartsakhi, is highly dependent on remittances from Russia and has been badly affected by the ruble’s decline. This has resulted in a rising crime rate. “Ever since the border with Turkey opened we’ve had nothing but trouble,” said Kristina Marabyan, a reporter for JNews. “Corruption is growing here – it’s like a return to the Soviet era.”

The nearby border crossing, between Çıldır in Turkey and Kartsakhi, was reopened in 2015, after being closed for 10 years, amid growing ties between Tbilisi and Ankara. Georgia’s leadership has been cultivating its relationship with Ankara in recent years, in a bid to attract foreign direct investment and further its own NATO ambitions.

The situation around Akhalkalaki is particularly sensitive due to the high density of Armenians living there. After the Russian Empire conquered the area in 1828, many Muslims fled to the Ottoman Empire and the tsarist government resettled the area with Armenians, “seeing them as more reliable than the local Muslims,” according to Timothy Blauvelt, a historian of Georgia at Ilia State University in Tbilisi.

Amid the genocide against Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, the south of Georgia took in many people who were fleeing the massacres. “Most of us have family from Kars and Erzerum” in Turkey, Marabyan said. “We became a region of refugees.”

Fear of Turkey has only heightened in recent years. Shortly after the border opened, someone using red paint wrote “we will return” in Turkish on the old Ottoman fortress silently watching over Akhalkalaki, local media reported.

“The problem is that [the Turks] have no respect for our local traditions,” Marabyan said. “I don’t want my country to be somebody’s playground.”

Many in the region saw the Russian military base in Akhalkalaki, which closed in 2007, as an important bulwark against Turkey. An old Soviet military base stands in ruins in Kartsakhki, overlooking the border. “Communism begins here!” is inscribed on its wall, for the benefit of the NATO soldiers who used to be based on the other side. Now, the town is in decline.

Despite the town’s new asphalt road , designed to help speed cargo across the border into Turkey, the village has experienced little economic benefit from the border’s opening. Locals complain that the growing number of heavily loaded trucks passing through the town are actually causing damage to the surrounding houses.

Others complain the open border is accelerating Akhalkalaki’s economic malaise. Turkish citizens regularly visit to buy food, cigarettes and gasoline, all of which are cheaper than in Turkey. Prices are reportedly rising as a result.

There’s also the issue of brothels and prostitution. Several brothels have opened in Akhalkalaki and neighboring Akhaltsikhe, which – locals say – was unheard of before the Turkish border opened.

In November, residents of Akhaltsikhe held a protest against the Turkish-oriented sex trade. But it was only ethnic Georgians who participated, Gharibyan said. “Armenians didn’t take part,” she said. “Every time we are involved in protests such as these local officials dismiss it as national hostility toward Turks, so it’s better for us to leave it to the Georgians.”

One of the most controversial symbols of Turkey’s growing presence in the region is the new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, which passes through the area and was built with largely Turkish and Azerbaijani labor.

“On the one hand, people in Akhalkalaki are afraid of the BTK strengthening Turkish influence in the region,” said Ghia Nodia, a political scientist at Ilia State University. “But on the other hand they are hoping it will lead to economic opportunities.”

But many have felt left out by the project. In 2016, a local Armenian activist Vahagan Chakhalyan released a public statement attacking the Georgian government’s “Turkification” policies. In Chakhalyan's words, “Turkish-Azeri capital is taking over the business market, and not hiring Christians.”

Chakhalyan and his party, the United Javakh Democratic Alliance, have long had a tense relationship with Georgian authorities, who accuse them of harboring separatist tendencies. Several party activists, including Chakhalyan, were even arrested in 2008 following a fatal bombing at the home of Akhalkalaki’s chief of police.

Locals say that Tbilisi exaggerates the separatist threat. “If we are separatists then where do we go?” Marabyan asked. “Would we join Armenia? They’re in an even worse position than we are.”

Public Radio of Armenia
Dec 10 2017
UN observes the International Day of Commemoration of Genocide Victims 

For the third time since 2015 a special event in observance of the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime was held at the United Nations in New York on 8 December. The observance of the International Day commenced with a minute of silence in honour of the memory of the victims of Genocide. Mr Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, representing the Secretary-General delivered opening remarks. Mr Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide delivered a keynote speech and launched a one year appeal for the universal ratification of the Genocide Convention. The panel featured Mr Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Armenia to the UN, Mr Jean-Claude Félix do Rego, Ambassador Permanent Representative of Benin to the UN, and Mr Martin Fode Seck, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Senegal to the UN. Ms Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, President of the International Criminal Court made remarks on the drafting of the Genocide Convention and its present challenges. In his remarks Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan noted that ‘there is a strong symbolism in determining 9 December as the International Day. Reaffirming the significance of the Convention as an effective international instrument for the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, UN General Assembly Resolution 69/323 linked the International Day to the date of the adoption of the Convention. Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan further noted that “intolerance, xenophobia, racial and ethnic profiling, glorification of hate crimes, especially lead and encouraged by the political leaders within a state should be a concern to the entire international community and serve a clear early warning sign of potential conflict and atrocity crimes”. Stressing the importance of achieving universalization of the Genocide Convention, Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan recalled that Armenia had proposed to launch a global campaign for raising the awareness of the Convention and calling upon those states that have not acceded to the Convention to do so by its 70th anniversary. He added that Armenia endorses, fully supports and commits to work together with the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide in launching a one year appeal for the universal ratification of the Convention by the end of 2018. Representatives of UN member states, academic institutions, civil society organizations and media, as well as representatives of the Armenian-American community and school children attended the observance of the International Day. The event was widely publicized in the UN. Background: Upon the initiative of Armenia, in September 2015, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted resolution 69/323 proclaiming 9 December as an International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. This landmark resolution followed up on resolution 28/34 of the UN Human Rights Council initiated by Armenia. The resolutions, which have led to the establishment of the Day, as well as the events held in its observance add to the continued efforts of Armenia to promote consolidated international action against the crime of genocide. 

Armenian Weekly
Dec 9 2017
Hamshen Armenian Activists Nurcan Vayiç Aksu and Cemil Aksu Released From Turkish Prison 

HOPA, Turkey—Political activists Nurcan Vayiç Aksu and Cemil Aksu —both of Armenian origin—were released from a Turkish prison on Friday, after being incarcerated for several weeks.

Political activist Nurcan Vayiç Aksu was taken into police custody on Oct. 19 after a house raid. Her husband, journalist and environmental activist Cemil Aksu, was arrested a few days later in the city of Artvin, for supposedly “praising crime and criminals” in his social media posts.

According to reports, Vayiç is a human rights activist and a member of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP). Aksu is the local co-chair of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and one of the editors of the Gor-Hemshin cultural magazine.

The couple is from the town of Hopa in Artvin, commonly known as the Hemshin (Hamshen) region, about 12 miles from the Georgian border. As long-time political activists, the two have spoken out about the local history and Armenian identity of the Hemshin region, as well as on environmental matters and women’s rights issues. Both have been critical of the Turkish government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Upon being released, the couple posted photos on social media with their eight-year-old child Arev, who was being taken care of by his aunt while the two were imprisoned.

ARMINFO News Agency, Armenia
December 8, 2017 Friday
The procedure for concluding international treaties in Armenia will be
carried out on the basis of legal acts, rather than presidential
Alexander Avanesov.

According to the First Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of
Armenia Artur Hovhannisyan, the submitted document is aimed at
bringing it in line with the provisions of the updated Constitution of
Armenia. At present, the RA Deputy Minister continued, the RA
President has the constitutional right to develop the procedure for
concluding international treaties that carry state and commercial
secrets. Now this provision is recognized as invalid, since since
April 2018 the head of the Armenian state, according to the Basic Law
of the country, will not have such powers.

International treaties, irrespective of their content, will be
concluded on the basis of the law "On International Treaties", the
Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly, and other legal acts.

Armenpress News Agency , Armenia
December 7, 2017 Thursday
New book reaffirms Armenian ethnicity of master architects behind
Istanbul's look

Hundreds of buildings have been built in Istanbul by the Balyan family.

For many years Turks were denying the fact that the Balyans were
Armenians, but today, this fact is being accepted already in Turkey

Ashot Grigoryan’s “Treasures of the gardens of the Armenian People:
Balyans” book once again affirms the Armenian ethnicity of the Balyan

Head Scientific-Secretary of the A. Tamanyan National Museum-Institute
of Architecture Ashot Grigoryan told ARMENPRESS that collecting an
archive about Armenian architects in foreign countries has been on the
museum-institute’s agenda.

“Upon collecting materials on architects who lived or still are living
in Turkey, it turned out that there is a big gap about the Balyan
architect generation. The Balyan’s were very famous architects in
Turkey, but their Armenian ethnicity was rejected for many years”, he

The book shows facts, how the Balyan’s appeared in Istanbul, who they
were, whether or not it was a coincidence that Armenian architects
were also working in Istanbul even before the Balyans. “And it turned
out that before the Balyans, architect Sinan was working in Istanbul,
and Turkey again denies his Armenian background”, he said.

Grigoryan says materials about the Balyans were found in Italy upon research.

Grigoryan said the Balyan’s have hundreds of works in Istanbul, both
Ottoman and Armenian buildings. “These are palace and military
buildings, residential homes, towers, bridges, dams. The Balyan’s are
also the architects of many districts. They also built churches and
hospitals for the Armenian community. Nearly 90% of their buildings
are preserved today”, he said.

Grigoryan says the Dolmabahçe Palace of Istanbul is among the most
famous works of the Balyans. 

The Daily Star, UK
Dec 10 2017
Henrikh Mkhitaryan wants showdown talks with Jose Mourinho 
over Man Utd future 

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